Central Florida

Blue Spring State Park

Blue Spring State Park: Swim, float and paddle away the summer heat

The park is beautiful, the swimming is fabulous and paddling opportunities are numerous. Escape the summer heat at Blue Spring State Park in southwestern Volusia County.

Cool summer camping near Tampa Bay

Cool summer camping near Tampa Bay

‘Roughing it’ takes on new meaning when camping during a Florida summer. Cooling off becomes a priority. Take the edge off with lots of water, lots of shade and smart thinking.

Tubing Ichetucknee Springs State Park. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Cool idea: Florida’s best river for tubing, Ichetucknee Springs

All those “lazy river” water attractions at hotels and parks? They’re just trying to recreate the exhilarating experience of tubing the clear, wild Ichetucknee River in north central Florida. Try the real thing. Summer tubing season starts the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.

Stomp the grapes at this Florida winery Aug. 11, 2018

Stomp the grapes at this Florida winery Aug. 11, 2018

Join 1,000 barefoot people to stomp the grapes at this funky Florida winery. Henscratch Farms Vineyard and Winery makes a great stop on a weekend exploring the rural cow country of Central Florida.

Flock to a wonderland of birds on tiny Pelican Island

Flock to a wonderland of birds on tiny Pelican Island

The nation’s first wildlife refuge was created by President Teddy Roosevelt to stop plume-hunters from wiping out several species of birds. The birds are back, and spring is a great time to visit. (You’ll need a kayak for a closeup look.)

Desert Inn at Yeehaw Junction

Historic Desert Inn stands tall at Yeehaw Junction

The billboards on the Turnpike are gone, and so are the discount coupons, but the legendary Desert Inn is still kickin’ at Yeehaw Junction.

Peering into the deep blue of "The Crack," a spring that is the origin of Baird Creek, a tributary of the Chassahowitzca.

The Chaz: Springs & wildlife make this river a special kayak trail

Kayaking the Chaz on the central Gulf Coast takes you over turquoise springs, down twisty creeks, and you might just see a manatee, otter or bald eagle. This is one of Florida’s premier kayaking rivers.

It’s firefly season at Blue Springs. Wait, what’s firefly season?

It’s firefly season at Blue Springs. Wait, what’s firefly season?

Blue Spring State Park, home to manatees in the winter and a favorite place for a swim in bracing spring water in the summer, will allow visitors to stay after closing during firefly season through early April. If that took you by surprise, you’re with me. But there is a firefly season and Blue Spring, located 35 miles north of Orlando in Orange City, is firefly central.

Brad Paisley

Florida Strawberry Festival: Feb. 28-March 10, 2019 in Plant City

Florida Rambler’s guide to the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City. Entertainment line-up, places to stay, places to eat, places to camp and things to do nearby. This year’s headliners include Brad Paisley, Reba MacEntire, Charley Pride, Jerry Lee Lewis, Josh Turner, Trace Adkins, Earth Wind and Fire, and many more.

The historic Donnelly House in Mount Dora.

Mount Dora: Eight big weekend festivals plus year-round charm

Mount Dora is a historic town that has figured out how to keep people returning year after year — with events like this: Jan 19-21 Renninger’s Antique Extravaganza and the Feb. 3-4 Annual Arts Festival